Senator Andrew Gounardes
4 min readJan 30, 2023

--

As part of my community engagement platform, I promised to provide a regular weekly update on what’s happening up in Albany. This is an update from week three and four of the 2023 session.

As always, you can always email me directly at gounardes@nysenate.gov if you have any other questions, ideas, or want more information about what’s happening in Albany or the district.

*Session Week Three*

Session

Remember that you can watch sessions live on the NYS Senate website and follow along with session proceedings on the official NY Senate Twitter.

For week three of the legislative session we gaveled in two days: January 17 and 18. We passed important legislation concerning healthcare affordability:

  • S982 would permit unregistered pharmacies from outside New York to ship, mail, or deliver prescription drugs to pharmacies in-state in cases of a specific patient need or a declared public health emergency.

Committees

I attended the Judiciary and Higher Education committees where we passed a series of important bills concerning healthcare access and expanding protection against discriminatory practices at the workplace:

  • S1043 relates to the dispensing of self-administered hormonal contraceptives; authorizes a licensed physician and a certified nurse practitioner to prescribe and order a non-patient specific regimen to a pharmacist licensed and located in the state for the dispensing of self-administered hormonal contraceptives.
  • S345 relates to the statute of limitations for actions based on discriminatory practices in employment; established action must be commenced within six years instead of the current three.

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I also participated in the Committee meeting on Jan 18, 2023, when the committee considered the nomination of Hon. Hector LaSalle for Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. Justice LaSalle was nominated by Governor Hochul to serve as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, the highest court in our state. The role of Chief Judge is also responsible for overseeing and administering the entire state court system. You can view the entire hearing here.

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I take seriously the process by which the legislature reviews judicial candidates. Over the course of five hours, I posed challenging questions to the nominee to formulate my decision on behalf of my constituents from whom I received significant feedback.

After meeting with Justice LaSalle, closely reviewing his judicial record, and questioning him during our hearing, I declined to advance his nomination from the Judiciary Committee to the full Senate. On a 10–9 vote, the nomination failed in committee.

What happens now? Under the Senate’s rules, the nomination has been rejected and the process should start anew with the Governor making another nomination. The Governor, however, has signaled she may pursue an unprecedented legal challenge against the Senate to force a vote by the full body even though the Judiciary Committee rejected the nominee. I believe it is in the best interest of our state, and the future of the Court of Appeals, that a new nomination process begins.

*Session Week Four*

Session

Remember that you can watch sessions live on the NYS Senate website and follow along with session proceedings on the official NY Senate Twitter.

This week we were in session for three days: January 23–25. I attended the Finance Committee where we voted on many pieces of legislation. You can view it here.

This week the Senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the State Constitution for the second time, which will codify access to abortion and contraception, as well as extend current protections against discrimination to several new protected classes. Below are other legislative highlights which passed this week:

  • S108A, a resolution to add new anti-discrimination protections to the New York State Constitution, including explicit guarantees for reproductive rights and marriage equality. The State Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause already prohibits discrimination because of race, color, creed, and religion. This constitutional amendment adds new protected classes to that list: ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, and sex, which includes sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy. This amendment will now go to voters for ratification in the November 2024 general election.
  • S348B, establishes a grant program within the Department of Health to build reproductive healthcare provider capacity within the state, fund uncompensated care, and provide financial support to organizations providing practical support to individuals within and traveling to the State.
  • S1043, authorizes pharmacists to dispense self-administered hormonal contraception from a non-patient specific order written by a licensed physician or certified nurse practitioner, allowing women to bypass the challenges of obtaining medical appointments at offices with limited hours or inconvenient locations.
  • We also passed my bill, S345 which doubles the statute of limitations for actions based on discriminatory practices in employment from three to six years. This is the third time the NYS Senate has passed this important piece of legislation and I hope to chapter it this year.

Thanks for reading! As always, you can email me directly at gounardes@nysenate.gov or call my office as 718–238–6044.

--

--